BBB Top Prospect Countdown #11: Slade Heathcott

Allow me to preface this by saying that out of all of the prospects in the Yankees organization, Slade Heathcott is my favorite. He may not have the most upside or be the most talented (although he’s close), but he has the most heart out of anybody in the farm system. Heathcott has been through a lot since being taken in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft (yes, the same draft the Yankees were hoping Mike Trout would somehow fall to the 29th pick, and almost did). Once the consensus top prospect in the organization, Heathcott was non-tendered from the Yankees 40-man roster following the 2014 season. It was an uphill battle for the youngster to make his name relevant again, but he accomplished that in 2015.
Photo Via NY Post
Breakdown
It took $2.2 million to keep Heathcott from attending LSU on a baseball scholarship. The Yankees had taken a risk with Heathcott as he faced and overcame self-inflicted obstacles with his high school baseball career. He also had conflicts with his parents, and struggles with alcohol. But these events do not define Heathcott as his career and personal life have taken a complete 180, which he credits to finding his relationship with God. And although the Yankees were disappointed Trout was nabbed with the 25th pick by the Angels, the organization was incredibly excited for Slade Heathcott and his 5-tool potential.

Following his first year as a professional in 2010, Heathcott went to the cutting board for his first shoulder surgery. He would come back strong in 2011 making the class-A South Atlantic League All-Star team after hitting .291 with 11 doubles, four triples and four homers in 47 games. He was then promoted to high-A Tampa, looking like he was on a fast track to the big leagues. But after playing just one game, Heathcott suffered a shoulder injury requiring season-ending surgery.

Heathcott would again return strong in 2012 hitting to a .302/.380/.461 slash line mostly with the Tampa Yankees. Heathcott then played in the Arizona Fall League that offseason where he hit .388 with a .494 on-base percentage and a .612 slugging percentage – good enough for a through the roof OPS of 1.106. The following year, 2013, was Heathcott’s healthiest as a pro. He appeared in 103 games but hit only .261 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs in Trenton. To protect him from the Rule 5 draft, the Yankees added Heathcott to the 40-man roster.

Heathcott went back to the doctors for another surgery in the offseason of 2013, this time for his knee. He would return in 2014 only to appear in 9 games before reinjuring the knee. Heathcott required another season ending surgery on that knee. With the injuries problems, the Yankees non-tendered Heathcott, essentially releasing him from the roster. This prompted 15 teams to reach out to Heathcott before he resigned with the Yankees on a minor league deal two days later.

Heathcott surprised a lot of people in 2015 coming into Spring Training in the cliche best shape of his life (but it was true) and he was rewarded for his efforts after being given the James P. Dawson Award, given each year to the best rookie in spring training. He got off to a hot start hitting .285 in 37 games in AAA and after Jacoby Ellsbury went down with an injury, Heathcott had finally gotten his call to the big leagues. Heathcott hit .353 with a home run in 17 at-bats for the big league club before enduring yet another injury – a strained quadriceps muscle.

Heathcott found himself back in triple-A after being activated from the DL, but being on the 40-man roster, he was called up in September. In his second stint with the big league club, Heathcott had one of the highlights of the Yankees season, hitting a huge game-winning 3-run homer off Rays All-Star Closer Brad Boxberger in the top of the 9th.

Projection
With Heathcott hitting .400/.429/.720 with two home runs, two doubles and eight RBIs in his small sample size of 17 big league games, Heathcott has proven that he can compete at the highest level. However, with a crowded outfield, Heathcott is blocked by the likes of Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran. Heathcott will also be competing for playing time in triple-A with Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and more, but he should be starting in Scranton on Opening Day where he will be 25 years old, turning 26 by the end of the season in September.

Expect Heathcott to be first in line if one of the Yankee outfielders suffers an injury. And if Heathcott plays well enough in triple-A, he will force his way into the Bronx earlier than expected. In 2016, it’s not a matter of if we will see Heathcott in pinstripes once again, but a matter of how quickly he will make it back to the Bronx.

You can view his career stats in the minors and majors here.
Also, we once interviewed Slade, and you can read that at this LINK.
You can keep up with our full top 30 list with links to our breakdowns HERE.

Article by: Chad Raines
You can follow me on twitter @Chad_Rain
Follow the BBB on twitter @BronxBomberBlog

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